Twitter, for many, has become a preferred medium of communication in recent years. Your email message may never get read or, in the worst case, may get caught in the Spam folder but tweets are less likely to suffer from such issues.

When you are travelling or take a “disconnected” vacation, with limited or no access to the Internet, you create an “out of office” reply in your email program to let people know that you won’t be able to respond to them right away. How about doing something similar for people who are trying to reach you through Twitter?

Twitter Auto-Reply

What will the Twitter Auto-Responder do

Unlike your email program, Twitter offers no easy way for you to setup out of office auto-replies but we can easily and quickly add such a feature to our Twitter account(s) with the help of a simple Google Script.

You specify the start date and the end date when the auto-responder should be active and any tweets sent to you during this period will automatically get a reply from your Twitter account saying you are out of office. The replies are sent once so if a person sends you two or more tweets during your vacation period, they will get only one out-of-office auto-reply.

How to Setup Out of Office Replies in Twitter

Step A: Setup a Twitter App

  1. Go to dev.twitter.com and sign-in with your existing Twitter account. Create a new Twitter app (screenshot), add a description, website (any URL) and callback URL (https://spreadsheets.google.com/macros/).
  2. Once the Twitter app has been created, click the Settings tab and set Read and Write as the Application Type. Click Update to save your changes.
  3. Switch to the OAuth tool tab and make note of the Consumer Key and Consumer Secret.

Step B: Setup the Auto-responder Script

  1. Open script.google.com and choose File -> Make a copy to duplicate the auto-responder script into your Google Drive.
  2. Enter the start and end dates of your vacation, the Twitter app keys (from the previous step), and your Twitter handle.
  3. Go to Run -> Start to initialize the auto-responder. Say Yes if the script requires you to authorize access to certain Google Script services.
  4. Choose Run -> Start and it will show an “Authorization Required” dialog. Allow the script to access your Twitter account and you are done.

The script will invoke itself on the start date specified by you and will respond to all incoming tweets until the end date. It will then uninstall itself automatically. As always, you are free to use, modify and distribute the source code with attribution.

When you are taking another vacation, just open the auto-responder script already present in your Google Drive, change the Start and End dates and choose Run->Start to setup the autoresponder again.